ATLANTA — Nearly a year after the Centennial Olympic Park bombing, investigators said Monday that they are increasingly confident the attack is connected to explosions at an Atlanta gay nightclub and an abortion clinic.
The conclusion, based on undisclosed forensic evidence, was announced as investigators made yet another plea for tips, releasing two detailed composite sketches of two men believed to have been seen outside the abortion clinic, along with a new photo showing a hazy figure sitting on the Olympic Park bench where that bomb was placed.
They also released a letter claiming responsibility for the Jan. 16 clinic blast and the Feb. 21 nightclub bombing. The letter is scrawled in childlike block letters denouncing "sodomites" and those who commit "ungodly preversion."
Officials hope the new information will prompt tips that could help them solve the July 27 bombing at Centennial Olympic Park that killed one person and injured more than 100, and the later explosions, which injured 12.
"I think it would be fair to say we're all but positive the last two are linked, and we have increasing confidence that the Centennial Park bombing is part of this," said Jack Killorin, agent in charge of the Atlanta office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
As a result, investigators of the ATF, the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation have combined the three separate investigations and extended the $500,000 Olympic Park bombing reward to cover the two other blasts.
At the same time, investigators acknowledged there are significant differences between the Olympic Park bombing and the two that followed.
Black powder was used in the Centennial Olympic Park bomb, while the others used dynamite. Also, the clinic and nightclub bombings each contained a second bomb that authorities believe was intended to kill or injure law enforcement officers sent to the scene.
"There is a significant difference," Killorin said. "However, there's also the fact that in one city in the short span of eight months, we've had three antipersonnel bombs about which it could be argued that law enforcement was at least a secondary target for each one."
The sketches, which appeared to be computer-generated, were both of men identified as having been seen near the abortion clinic the night before the attack and the morning the bombs exploded. One man had a full beard.
The letter, handwritten in block capital letters with numerous misspellings, says a group called the Army of God is responsible for both bombings. It says the clinic bombs were set to avenge "the murder of 3.5-million children every year," while the nightclub bombing targeted "sodomites."
Investigators hope the author's handwriting and key phrases--such as "Death to the New World Order" and "the ungodly communist regime in New York," apparently a reference to the United Nations--might produce a tip.
Agents asked people with information to call 1-888-ATF-BOMB.
"One phone call from one citizen, whether for a half-million dollars or whether because they believe it is the right thing to do, can end this mystery, can secure the safety of the people, can secure the safety of the law enforcement community in this area," Killorin said.